The site of a 19th century coal house and the surrounding East Reservoir in Stoke Newington will reopen as a wetland reserve after being closed to the public for almost two centuries.
Closed off soon after construction in 1833, the reservoir slowly developed into a ‘wildlife haven’. The London Wildlife Trust is now restoring the Grade II listed coal house as the visitor hub for a new nature reserve, Woodberry Wetlands, which will open in November.
David Mooney, lead project manager at Woodberry Wetlands, said: “What makes the site special is that it is surrounded by all sides by densely populated urban London, but you feel like you’re in the middle of the countryside.
“It’s a huge open wetland nature reserve that just looks like it’s been landed from the middle of the countryside into the middle of London.”
The coalhouse, once also used as a kitchen to serve the New River Company directors’ dining hall nearby, was suffering from significant structural damage after the profitable company abandoned the site in the early 19th century.
Thanks to grants of almost £40,000 received from the Association for Industrial Archaeology and the Heritage Lottery Fund, the London Wildlife Trust will transform the building into an education and training hub with a café and a roof terrace to admire the views on the wetlands.
At Woodberry Wetlands it will be possible to observe and study wildlife in its natural habitat. The reservoir is home to reed buntings, great crested grebes, dragonflies and kingfishers among many other wetland animals.
Mooney highlighted that the project will add to the Borough of Hackney ‘12 hectares of amazing wildlife and nature that is free for people to visit’. There is only one catch: in other to protect the wildlife, no dogs will be allowed.
Woodberry Wetlands will open in November 2015, with a special public launch and celebration in spring 2016. For more details, click here.